May: My Impatient Month

The month of May began so brightly. The soft warm breath of spring wafted through the open windows. Sweaters and coats were set aside. Sandals and Espadrilles were pulled out of boxes where they have been sleeping for months. I began to plant seeds, the grass needed mowing, the trees were dancing in their new green ball gowns, and we were ready to continue on Tòti. Then the temperature dropped, the clouds began to gather and the rains began to fall. The epoxy we had just coated the walls of Tòti with refused to dry and I began to pace the floor.

I looked back at the month of May 2014 and read my words; we were waiting for news of the chassis delivery and I was trying to control my impatience. Being reminded of that time gave me a renewed appreciation of keeping a written record.

It’s difficult to sit down each month in front of the computer screen and bring to the forefront of my mind the happenings of the past few weeks. However, when I am forced to concentrate, the past flows back in vivid colors and emotions. I am reminded just how far we have advanced on a dream, a dream I began but never expected to become reality. Now I find myself impatient that the reality isn’t moving fast enough. Reading back through the past months, I am forced to stop and take a look at my impatience and ask it to take a seat in another room of my brain, PLEASE.

The construction of Tòti is at a temporary standstill until the temperatures rise and the epoxy cures. We have coated the exterior walls with epoxy to render them waterproof. They will be painted once everything is assembled and the roof is in place. We are working in a garage with no heat and no electricity. When we need to use a lamp or power tool we attach several long extension cords that meander over hill and dale. The ceiling of the garage is too low to accommodate Tòti once we assemble the walls and roof so we must wait for somewhat stable temperatures and no rain to put everything in place. While waiting and pacing I cut out the horizontal scalloped trim for the sides, so that’s ready. I also drew up a design for the gussets that will go in the corners where the roof overhangs the driver’s seat. I bought Ash planks for these. Mark will plane them and glue them together. The finished gussets will be 60 cm high and 45 cm wide. I plan to carve the design into the wood and paint the design. I have NO idea if I am capable of doing this. There will be two gussets, one on each side and they will be carved and painted on both sides.

Here’s a photo of the design. It will be cut out starting at the top right and around the petals and leaf on the right as well as the darkened area. My partner, Mark the engineer, carefully measured me sitting down to make sure it won’t block the side view when driving or bump a head when stepping up onto the front deck. The design has passed inspection and now……can I do it.


Just like magic a beautiful Comtois horse has appeared in our neighbor’s pasture. Her name is Vanille. We have been invited twice for morning excursions with her pulling a 4 wheel sport carriage (caleche in french). She has a lovely disposition. She is bright and alert, sure of herself and totally attentive to her owner. I sometimes walk out in the pasture to visit her and just put my arms around her powerful neck. She comes walking towards me as soon as she sees me. The Comtois is a light draft horse standing about 15 hands. This is a good size for me to take care of and harness. It is a very hardy breed of horse, happy outside in winter weather. If Tòti is not too heavy, this breed of horse is a possibility.

The Comtois (pronounced con-twa) is a very old breed that is thought to have descended from horses brought to France from northern Germany by the Burgundians in the fourth century.In the sixteenth century, the Comtois was used to improve the horses of Burgundy and became famous as a cavalry and artillery horse. Louis XIV’s used this breed in his armies, as did Napoleon on his campaign into Russia. During the nineteenth century the Comtois was bred with other draft breeds like the Norman, Boulonnais and Percheron. Since 1905 a stronger horse with improved legs has emerged by using small Ardennais sires. The Comtois has good qualities of endurance, hardiness and balance. They are also good-natured, easy to train and hard working.

The breed has remained in the same area of eastern France since its original introduction, now called the Franche-Comté region, where the Jura mountains border France and Switzerland. In 1910 the first Comtois Breeder’s Competition took place in Maiche, where the Breed Show is still held today. In 1919 the Comtois Stud was created and is located in Besancon.

During the last century the Comtois became an everyday farming work-horse in the region and, despite the growing mechanisation of farming methods, the Comtois retained a strong presence in the fields throughout the Franche-Comté.

Today, the breed is still widely used for farming and is particularly suited to hauling timber in the high pine forests of the Jura and working in the hilly vineyards of the Arbois area of eastern France




About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Community, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to May: My Impatient Month

  1. If anyone can carve that board into a beautiful flower YOU can!!! It will warm up again – it must! I love the image of the trees “dancing in new green ball gowns”. I will see trees this way from now on. xx

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